Steam Deck Handheld Gaming PC Poised for Big Streaming Gains

Steam Deck
(Image credit: Valve Corporation)

According to a new Steam Update for the Steam app, Valve's next line of work revolves around improving Steam's Remote Play service within Linux. The update comes as Valve prepares for the Steam Deck and its proprietary Linux operating system, so this prep work will likely benefit the forthcoming handheld.

The update greatly improves Video Acceleration API (VA-API) hardware decoding on Linux. The touch controls settings have also been fixed to save the settings correctly in the Steam Link app. So there's a lot of work being undertaken to ensure that Remote Play works well within Linux.

VA-API support is important, as it's an open-source video API used by Linux operating systems, and the Steam Deck will presumably use the API to decode game streams with Remote Play. VAPPI is used by popular applications such as VLC within Linux and supports Intel and AMD open-source video drivers. The video API also supports many video codecs, including MPEG-2, H.264, H.265, VP9, and more.

Getting VAPPI support to work well with Remote Play makes sense in light of the Steam Deck's capabilities. Besides having pretty potent CPU and GPU hardware inside, it's also the perfect candidate to stream games from another source with its large screen and versatile controls.

If you don't know already, Steam Remote Play is a major ecosystem feature that allows for several creative ways to play video games, either alone or with your friends. But, arguably, its best feature is allowing up to four gamers to play co-op multiplayer games together through the internet, even if three of the gamers don't own the game or aren't running the same operating system.

Remote Play can also stream games from your main gaming machine to another gaming machine, laptop, mobile device, or Steam Link over a local network connection. This is very useful if you want to use your main gaming PC's raw horsepower while sitting back on the living room couch or gaming from another part of the house.

With Steam Deck and its Linux-based Steam OS, Remote Play could be an even more important feature down the road for Deck gamers as it opens up more gaming options, especially if you want to play games on the Deck that are not fully supported within Linux.

Aaron Klotz
Contributing Writer

Aaron Klotz is a contributing writer for Tom’s Hardware, covering news related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • husker
    I like Steam/Valve, I really do. But here's the problem with them: They seem to get bored easily, jumping from one project to the next. They drop something good into the market and then appear to abandon it and move on to the next shiny engineering challenge. Or maybe they just don't like to compete in the marketspace: When rival companies create similar or competitive products, they take their ball and go home.
  • lazyabum
    That's one way to get a new GPU.